Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Why You Should Always Make One Last Cast

I was done, having had no luck all day. I’d changed flies, tried different techniques, added weight to sink the midge lower in the water, taken weight off to let another float along the top. I’d matched the hatch and turned to my trusty never fail. I’d thrown everything in the bag at them over several hours. And nothing.

The kicker: it was a crystal-clear day on my favorite river, and I could see fish all around me. But they weren’t taking what I was serving.

Situations like this remind me of my favorite W.C. Fields quote: “If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it.”

So, I was calling it quits.

Walking out along the creek, I decided to throw one more cast in the direction of a big brown trout I could see nestled behind a rock. It was my most half-assed cast of the day. I literally flipped the rod over as I walked and let the fly plop down on the water with a thud no respectable fisherman would aspire to.

And, WHAP. He took it.

Before I go any further, you should know now that this is not going to be a post about fly fishing. It’s about far a less interesting subject: the stage of success known as quitting.

Fisherman often claim that fishing imitates life. Just as golfers say it about golf, and knitters about knitting. But, in this case, it’s more about how life can imitate fishing.

As some people know, I’ve been writing this blog for quite some time now. I used to write here quite regularly. Even posted weekly, for a while. And, over the years it has been a fun outlet for my creative side and a fine place to chronicle our family adventures – now of great use to my increasingly forgetful mind.

It’s also opened some interesting doors. Because of this dumb blog, I reconnected with some old friends, met some new ones, and, one time, I even got our family a free ski vacation. One of the most interesting things to happen due to this whole blog thing has been my involvement with the Dadbloggers Facebook group and my attendance at the Dad 2.0 Summit – a yearly gathering of dad social media influencers and parenting writers.

One of the 2018 Spotlight Bloggers, Doug Zeigler,
 reading his blog post to the conference.
I’ve gone twice: 2016 in Washington, D.C., and 2018 in New Orleans. Not that I’ve ever influenced anyone. Heck, my kids don’t even listen to me. But I’ve had some great experiences at these conferences, picked up a few writing tips, made those friends I mentioned, and had a lot of fun.

As it happens, each year the organizers of the Dad 2.0 Summit recognize a few bloggers from across the country and have them share a post – as in read it – to the hundreds of people at the conference. It’s the Blogger Spotlight and it’s kind of a big deal.

To become a Spotlighter, a post has to be nominated (most often by the author) and then get selected from a few hundred submissions. And, for the past four or five years, I’ve had posts nominated (most often by the author).

I always wanted to get selected because I looked at it as validation from my peers that I wasn’t totally wasting my time. I also dreamed that it would be one more step on the way to other goals – like writing books, or early retirement.

Yet, it never happened. And, I started to figure it never would. 

Lately, I haven’t exactly been the most prolific writer, by any stretch. As time has marched on and sped up, the ideas just seem to come to me less often, and the opportunity to write passes before I have a chance to funnel my thoughts into a coherent thing worth putting into words.

To be honest, I’ve thought lately about letting this old blog just fade away. I always say to myself when I’m preparing a post, maybe this will be the last one.

I wouldn’t stop creating, altogether. I’d focus on the dumb book I’m halfway finished writing. And I’d tweet, which has much more immediate returns than blogging, from the positive feedback side of the equation.

Maybe it was time, I thought, to quit RuddyBits.

Then, in January, I got a text. Actually, it was a Facebook message – which is now considered old school. It was from one of the Dad 2.0 Summit organizers asking if I’d like to read one of my post as a 2019 Spotlight Blogger.

WHAP.

It made me think again about how, sometimes, it's right when you are ready to walk away that your luck turns around. Some people call it persistence. But it might be something else. But, whatever it is, it can change your perspective.

You know that time on the river, when my last cast of the day landed the fish? It ended up not being my last cast. I kept going.

How can you walk away after something like that, am I right?

So, now I’m headed to San Antonio to read a blog post on parenting. And I imagine, at some point, this damn fool will probably want to write about it.

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